Slide film processing -- does it matter?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Carl Bevil, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. Carl Bevil

    Carl Bevil Guest

    I've decided to try to shoot a roll or two of slide film to see if I like it
    better than print film. One of the things that attracts me to slide film is
    that (at least how I understand it) there is not much room for the printer to
    "interpret" your pictures. So that leads me to ask: does it matter where I
    get my slide film processed? If I take it to the local drug store, will it be
    that much worse than a one-hour or pro lab? I'm not talking about making
    prints from the slide film, but just making the slides.


    Carl Bevil, Feb 19, 2004
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  2. Most local 1-hr wallmart's dont do E6, they send it out.
    Here in NY your looking at a pro lab or sending it to Qualex (kodak).

    Martin Riddle, Feb 19, 2004
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  3. Carl Bevil

    Slingblade Guest

    there might be one somewhere, but I don't know of any One-Hour slide
    processing labs. I do wholeheartedly recommend that you have your
    slides processed by Kodak if it is Kodak film, though. Don't go with
    the local shopping center's cheapest slide processing...if they offer
    an option for Kodak processing...get it!

    There are some good mail-in processors too.
    Slingblade, Feb 19, 2004
  4. Carl Bevil

    Tom Thackrey Guest

    Find a pro lab. They ususally offer 2-3 hour turn on E6. They will have much
    better QC than a consumer lab and you won't have to run the risk of loosing
    your film in the mail. The price will probably be close to the mail labs.
    Many offer a discounted price if you're willing to wait for 1 or 2 day
    Tom Thackrey, Feb 19, 2004
  5. Carl Bevil

    DM Guest

    Yes it does. If the chemicals are stale or heavily used then your colors
    and densities may be off. I've sometimes got back slides where I can see
    no clear whites, because the lab was reusing chemicals a little too much.
    You have to make sure you go to a good lab.
    DM, Feb 19, 2004

  6. There is actually *no* room for the printer to interpret the photos -
    slides are simply the film that's been run through the developing process,
    and this is a fixed process that remains largely unaltered. So you will get
    what you shot, unless the lab is really screwed up and blows chem mix,
    temp, or times, all of which are automated in 99.99% of the labs...

    Skip the one-hour places, though. First, I've never seen one that
    processes the film on site - different chemicals from C-41 process, so it
    requires maintaining an entirely separate set of machines. Most minilabs
    will ship slides to another pro lab. Simply go to that pro lab, and shorten
    the turnaround by three days or more.

    Also, you stand the distinct chance of the tech at the minilab
    failing to notice you've handed them E-6 film and stuffing it into the C-41

    As for it mattering what pro lab you go to with the slides? Yes, the
    same way it does for prints, though the margin for error is less. But labs
    can still scratch the slides, or leave water spots, despite calling
    themselves a 'pro' lab. So it helps to ask around among the photogs that
    shoot slides in your area (not always easy to find, but the commercial
    shooters should know). You may also get other options, such as choice of
    mounting materials (cardboard or plastic), imprinting info on mounts,
    getting them unmounted, pushing/pulling (and at a decent price) and more.

    If you're not in a hurry, the mail-order labs can be useful. Mailing
    envelopes can be obtained from B&H Photo Video, and these are the best
    prices you'll get anywhere, but turnaround time is usually a week or more
    (varies by area - I was getting a week, Florida to California). Mail labs
    tend to be most consistent, but there are some horror stories around. I
    have far far more horror stories with local labs, so I stay with mail-order

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Feb 19, 2004
  7. Carl Bevil

    Carl Bevil Guest

    If you're not in a hurry, the mail-order labs can be useful. Mailing
    Thanks for your comments; sounds like I have to be careful where I take my
    film no matter what. I can't seem to find a lab I really like that's
    convenient for me or has reasonable prices (the pro labs in town are an order
    of magnitude more expensive than the one-hour labs).

    I've tried mail-order with Dale Labs. They did an OK job; it's hard for me to
    know how much of a print's problems are due to me vs. the lab (I'm new to
    photography). I don't mind waiting 1 - 2 weeks for my pictures if they come
    out well. Maybe I'll try B&H for comparison. I'd be interested in any other
    mail-order places people have had positive experiences with.


    Carl Bevil, Feb 19, 2004
  8. Carl Bevil

    Ed E. Guest

    The only difference I've ever found is the mounts that they get mounted in.
    Ask if they use plastic or cardboard. Stay away from the cardboard ones
    because the inner corners are typically rounded and cover part of your
    image. The plastic ones are sturdier, too. I know that anything that goes
    to a Fuji Lab is done in cardboard, so I stopped using them.
    Ed E., Feb 19, 2004
  9. Carl Bevil

    Alan Browne Guest

    The good side is as you mention. The film will be developed to reflect
    exactly what you shot for exposure (So does negative, by the way, it's
    the printing where things get screwed up).

    There are two E-6 labs within 20 minuters of my house. The closest can
    do 2 (or more) pushes, and so I go there for that. They also are the
    kings of scratches, dust being pressed into the film and "water spots"
    on the slides. I've had 5 rolls in a row perfect and then two rolls
    with a dozen scratches across the film...

    The other, while it can't do "push" beyond 1 stop, gives me cleaner,
    rarely scratched slides. So that's where I go. This second place also
    sells Sensia with development included at a very attractive price. They
    do this to keep their E-6 machine running at a good rate.

    So yes, it matters. Ask around for opinions (contact photo clubs is a
    good source) of other photogs.

    Alan Browne, Feb 19, 2004
  10. Carl Bevil

    Alan Browne Guest

    Slingblade wrote:

    I have two E-6 places within a 20 minute drive that will process and
    mount slides within 2 hours. In the city there are at least 3 places
    and probably more. None of these businesses are in a mall...
    Alan Browne, Feb 19, 2004
  11. Carl Bevil

    Alan Browne Guest

    Just to be picky... one minilab place I go to will send out slides to
    another place and have them back the next day by 10:00 (if you drop them
    off by 10 in the morning). Unfortunately, the place they send to is not
    very good for scratches, dust and water marks.

    Another minilab place also has the E-6 machine on's 5 minutes
    further to drive and that's where I go...
    Alan Browne, Feb 19, 2004
  12. Carl Bevil

    Alan Browne Guest

    ....for slide film, I find "walk up" dev is within 50 cents regardless of
    where it's processed, as MOST E6 work is for pros, or at least
    discerning amateurs. The E-6 machines process 6x6 (cm) down to slide.
    It's a competitive business in Montreal, so prices are fairly uniform.
    No processor can afford to price himslef out of the market.

    Alan Browne, Feb 19, 2004
  13. Wonder of wonders, there's a nearby 1-hour type lab, PhotoTime at the
    Stanford Shopping Center, that has an E6 machine and generally gets them
    done in 2 hours or so, with good plastic mounts to boot. I have no idea
    why it makes economic sense for them to do so, but I'm happy to use them
    and hope they don't stop this service any time soon. About $9/roll if I
    remember correctly.

    For my 120 (and 4x5 when I get back into that) E6 work, I use a pro lab,
    but I drop it off at a local store that sends them to the lab (The New
    Lab in San Francisco) and gets them back the next day, for only $1
    more/roll than if I schlepped it up to SF to drop off, and then another
    trip (or have them mail it, $20 minimum mail cost) back. That's $1 well
    spent in my book.

    I guess enough people shoot E6 here to make these places stay in

    Drew Saunders, Feb 19, 2004
  14. Carl Bevil

    Chris Guest

    Like all kinds of services, you'll find good and bad, so yes it does matter.

    If you use a quality and professional service, you'll get good results.
    It's common sense.
    Chris, Feb 19, 2004
  15. Carl Bevil

    Carl Bevil Guest

    Hi Drew. I live in San Francisco, and I'm considering going to New Lab.
    Their slide film processing/mounting price isn't too bad (I guess it was their
    price for prints I didn't like so much). They aren't open on weekends, but
    they are open late (until 9pm) so that could work for me. I assume since you
    still use them that you like them? It's a bit out of the way for me (I live
    in the Richmond and work in the Sunset), but sounds like it would be worth it.

    Carl Bevil, Feb 19, 2004
  16. Carl Bevil

    Jean Guest

    | The only difference I've ever found is the mounts that they get mounted
    | Ask if they use plastic or cardboard. Stay away from the cardboard ones
    | because the inner corners are typically rounded and cover part of your
    | image. The plastic ones are sturdier, too. I know that anything that
    | to a Fuji Lab is done in cardboard, so I stopped using them.

    Whereas the immediate difference in processing might mot be visible, I have
    found that it makes a drastic difference when the slides have aged. I've
    just completed scanning in over 1600 slides dating from 1980 onward. The
    slides processed by Kodak suffered the least from aging and it is
    relatively easy to get a good image from them; the slides processed by
    no-name outfits have degraded terribly and it is nearly impossible to get a
    decent image from them.

    Jean, Feb 20, 2004
  17. Carl Bevil

    Ed E. Guest

    Thanks for the info. All the slides I'm scanning are only a few days old, a
    couple weeks old at most. Once scanned, they get put in archival sleeves
    and stored appropriately for posterity.
    Ed E., Feb 20, 2004
  18. Carl Bevil

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Even at some professional labs, it can happen that slides are scratched,
    cut and mounted wrong, or even come back dusty. However, many of the
    machines are automated, so the exposures are often exact. When there
    really is some difference is the turnaround time, and if you do push
    processing. Most of the drug store type of places look at you cross eyed
    when you mention push processing. Bottom line is that if you find a good
    place, continue to use that place.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Feb 20, 2004
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